Pesticides known as organophosphates harm children’s lungs, according to a recently published study adding that they may be as harmful as secondhand smoke.
The study was conducted in the Salinas Valley of California and included medical data on 279 children with ages between 6 months old and 5 years old. The Salinas Valley is an agricultural region where the use of pesticides in the orchards, large agricultural lands, on the crops and small gardens is widely spread. Previous research has shown that farmers working with pesticides are directly affected, with their lung function decreasing considerably due to organophosphates exposure.
However, this is the first study to look at the impact of organophosphates on children’s lung function. This class of pesticides are also known to target the nervous systems of people who are exposed to them. According to Brenda Eskenazi of the University of California at Berkeley, where she works as a professor of epidemiology and maternal and child health, the evidence gathered for the study provides clear proof that the pesticides known as organophosphates harm children’s lungs.
The medical data collected included analysis of urine samples from the 279 children participating in the study. The samples revealed the level of exposure to the organophosphates used in the Salinas Valley. In addition, when the children reached the age of 7, they were required to complete a test assessing their lung function.
While taking deep breaths and expelling the air, the research team led by Professor Brenda Eskenazi could establish the children’s lung function and relate it to the level of exposure to organophosphates. The findings indicate that as the organophosphates levels increased 10 points, lung function decreased by 8 percent.
According to the researchers, the lung function decline related to organophosphates levels can be equated to lung function decline related to secondhand smoke. The study, published in the Thorax journal raises an alarm signal as to the development of the lung function decline in children into severe respiratory problems as they transit into adulthood.
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